ASHLAND, Ohio - The superintendent of Ashland City Schools will likely recommend that a veteran bus driver be fired after she was caught on camera slapping an 8-year-old boy who may have a disability.
Cathy Goetz, 43, pleaded not guilty Friday morning in Ashland Juvenile Court to misdemeanor charges of child endangering, assault and menacing. She was released on bond and is due back in court on March 12 for a pretrial hearing.
The video, recorded on Jan. 17, shows Goetz reach back and slap the boy was who had been screaming and kicking his feet.
Just before the slap, Goetz is heard yelling, "That is enough... stop it."
Another section of the video shows the bus driver leave her seat and lunge at the boy.
In a police report, an officer wrote, "It appears to me that as she grabs him, he is pulling back from her and she gets a hold of him by the collar and is over the top of him, pressing him into the seat."
Superintendent Douglas Marrah said he was very upset when he watched the video. Goetz was originally placed on paid leave, but that changed to unpaid leave on Feb. 4.
"Is that something that we can have in our schools on a daily basis? Absolutely not. Are we going to treat kids the right way? We need to do that and I felt that was an issue we had to address," Marrah said.
According to a police report, Goetz reported the boy was crying when he got on the bus that morning. She also said he was kicking her and threatened to kill her.
When she was questioned again on Jan. 27, she told police she did not remember slapping the child.
Ashland resident Tim Clerkin was the first on the scene of the altercation. He heard the scanner call for help and feared the bus driver was in danger.
"The driver opened the door and asked me to get this kid 'The F' off her bus," Clerkin recalled.
Clerkin shifted his attention to boy who was crying, screaming and rocking back and forth.
"Every time he tried to say something, the bus driver would interrupt him... He kept tying to tell me that someone hit him and I couldn't understand who he was saying."
Ironically, Clerkin had installed the camera on that very bus while working for a security company hired by the district.
"When I saw that video, I was in awe. My daughter rode that bus with that driver for somewhere around four or five years."
Marrah said the school board could vote on whether to terminate Goetz at the next scheduled meeting on Feb. 24.
There was no answer at Goetz home Friday afternoon.
The family of the boy declined to comment.
Prosecutors and police also declined to comment, citing the pending case in court.